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  • Hoops end 2014 with draw against Ross County

    Hoops end 2014 with draw against Ross County

    By: Martin Dalziel on 27 Dec, 2014 17:04

  • SPFL Premiership

    Celtic Park, Glasgow

    Saturday, December 27, 2014

    CELTIC...0

    ROSS COUNTY...0

    CELTIC ended 2014 with a goalless draw against Ross County today (Saturday) at Paradise.

    The Bhoys bossed the game and created chances from early on but failed to find their way through a resolute and well-marshalled County team who offered little in attack but stood up to all of the Hoops’ advances.

    Ronny Deila made just one change to the side that lost 2-1 to Dundee United last weekend with James Forrest replaced by Leigh Griffiths. The Edinburgh striker started on the right as the Bhoys lined up in their traditional 4-2-3-1 formation but soon joined John Guidetti up front as the manager moved the team into 4-4-2.

    The match started with a stirring rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone which followed a perfectly observed minute’s silence for those affected by the recent tragedy at George Square.

    The Bhoys took control of the game when it did kick-off and stretched County in the opening stages with good play down the left. Anthony Stokes and Emilio Izaguirre continued to develop their blossoming partnership on the left this season but the pairing were pulled apart before 10 minutes when Stokes went down injured.

    The Irishman was replaced by Callum McGregor on the left and Celtic continued their early pressure after the reshuffle.

    Griffiths did well to win the ball on the edge of the Staggies box and turned inside Jamie Reckford with some clever footwork before the defender bundled the striker off the ball but no free-kick was given.

    Guidetti then tested Antonio Reguero in the County goal with a stinging free-kick from the left of the box which the keeper palmed onto the post and gathered at the second attempt. The Swede had an identical chance moments later from the same area but hit the side netting.

    The Celts continued to dominate possession but created their best chances from set pieces which came in abundance as a result of clumsy challenges from the County defence.

    Filip Kiss was booked after a deliberate hand ball in midfield and Nir Bitton got a head on the end of Stefan Johansen’s free kick but Reguero saved well on the line. Izaguirre then went into the book for a foul on the left as the referee produced a flurry of cards.

    Martin Woods went close on the half hour mark after a poor clearance from Bitton in the Celtic box but the midfielder’s shot fizzed wide.

    The game lost its pace near the end of the first half but Celtic still created chances. Izaguirre was the architect of the best of them from the left and did well to set up Guidetti with a good low cross but the striker’s flick was saved by Reguareo.

    Former Celt Lewis Toshney then replaced Michael Gardyne in an enforced change for County before Celtic went close again with a Griffiths shot at the back post but his volley was flicked wide by Guidetti.

    Celtic upped the pace after the restart and could have taken the lead within five minutes when McGregor curled in a shot from the top of the D but his effort cracked off the cross bar and Guidetti couldn’t convert the rebound.

    The Hoops reverted to their traditional 4-2-3-1 formation which saw Griffiths push out wide right where he found more room to manoeuvre and started to create chances. He first set up Van Dijk and then himself with a few long range shots but couldn’t find the target.

    The visitors set up base camp on their 18-yard-line which forced Celtic to play across the box but they struggled to penetrate the County backline. The manager then replaced McGregor and Guidetti with Kris Commons and Stefan Scepovic as he went all out for the win

    Commons got in the action early after taking a string of corners from the left but the Hoops couldn’t make anything of the set pieces.

    Play broke down with 15 minutes left after Johansen, Bitton and Terry Dunfield took knocks one after the other and received treatment on the field.

    A piece of quick passing from Celtic then caught County up the field on a rare venture forward and Scott Brown fed Matthews on the right flank but the defender’s run into the box was pushed wide and the chance passed.

    The visitors plan to stifle Celtic was working but they offered little going forward any time they stopped a Celtic attack.

    Brown remained Celtic’s main driving force in the middle of the park by winning challenges and trying to drag his team forward but every time he did so the Bhoys were met with two banks of five in dark blue.

    As the clock ticked down the visitors managed to win the ball in Celtic territory which saw Kiss rattle a shot off Craig Gordon’s post and win a corner but the Hoops survived the set-piece.

    Ronny Deila’s side went forward again in waves with Virgil van Dijk added to the forward ranks but couldn’t find a way through Ross County’s resolute defence before full time.

    Five minutes of stoppage time was added but it wasn’t enough to allow Celtic to find a chance to take three points and the game finished goalless.

    CELTIC (4-2-3-1) Gordon; Matthews, Ambrose, van Dijk, Izaguirre; Brown, Bitton; Griffiths, Johansen, Stokes (McGregor 8) (Commons 66); Guidetti (Scepovic 66).

    Subs not used: Zaluska, O’Connell, Henderson, Tierney.

    ROSS COUNTY (4-5-1) Reguero; Boyd, Saunders, Gardyne. (Toshney 65) Kiss; Reckford, Arquin (Jervis 90+2), Carey, Woods, Dunfield (Ross 80); Quinn.

    Subs not used: Brown, Cardle, Maatsen.

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